Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Lake Como

Craig Writes;
17/08/13 A travel day today. Our train leaves at 12pm.  We only have one change then onto a regional bus for a short ride to our apartment. Well that was the plan.

The train trip was no problem.  The "fun" started when we hopped onto the local bus. 24 Euros for a return bus tickets vs 150 Euros for return taxi fares seemed a bit of a no brainer, until. Our instructions from Federica, our host, was to get off at Piazza Roma where she would be waiting to take us to the apartment. This was the instruction Christina gave to our bus driver, "Can you please let us off at Piazza Roma" she said.
"Si Si", he said
Federica stood and watched as our bus stopped at Piazza Roma, an old Italian lady with her shopping got off and we continued on. Christina sat on the bus looking out at a house that looked very similar to the photo of the house she had seen on the internet where our apartment was located. Puzzled yet uncertain, we continued on for another ten minutes past our expected arrival time before I went forward to the bus driver to make sure we hadn't missed our stop.
"No, no", he said motioning that Piazza Roma was still to come.
Twenty minutes elapsed and I went forward again to ask the same question and got the same reassurance. "Si, si",Piazza Roma, and more motioning of a stop up ahead.
With the bus just about empty and us now nearly thirty minutes late, our frustration was showing.  A fellow english speaking traveller took pity on us and looked up on his google maps. Yes, we have passed the stop about twenty minutes back.
Right, I storm down the front and yell into the drivers face, "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?"
"no, no" he protests.
I yell into his face, again, that he has taken us too far and add, "you're a FU#*ING IDIOT, give me my tickets back so we can catch another bus:. He goes, "calm, calm" and I want to slap him but he's driving the bus so that's probably not a good idea.
Then, finally, one of the locals chimes in and calmly asks me where we are trying to go.
"Piazza Roma" I say frustrated and tense.
"which one?" she says
What!, Which one?
Yes, apparently there are two Piazza Romas on our bus route, the one we wanted and the one where the bus finally stops.
A small detail our host neglected to mention. However, also a point the local bus driver should have known and perhaps, just maybe, a question he should have asked us like, which freakin' Piazza Roma we wanted. 
We finally arrive and all tumbled off at the last stop, Piazza Roma, to find Federica had been madly texting to ask us where the heck we were. A few desperate texts later and she was on her way to Piazza Roma bus terminal to pick us up and take us back to the apartment.  A very frustrating experience all round but hey, the apartment is huge and the view is a million bucks.  

Here are some balcony views 
And another
One more for luck
We have Lake Como stretched out before us. A towering mountain of trees stretches up towards the sky on the other side of a vast jade coloured lake. To the left and right the lake disappears into lake side villages built on the edges and more mountains with their heads covered in the clouds.

Our little town of Argegno is picture postcard perfect. No bus loads of Asian tourists following bopping flags through crowded streets or trying to manoeuvre sideways down crowded narrow cobblestone pathways.

Bitumen may be practical but give me cobblestones anytime
Effortless charm
We walked the ancient narrow streets discovering amazing little vistas you would see in a travel brochure at every turn.  At the top of a small windy alley we found nestled in between some narrow houses a small bakery come grocery store that we would visit often.
This bakery was the source of many tasty things
Every corner held a surprise
18/08/13 Totally fed up with how much we have been feeding ourselves Christina and I decided to start a fasting program today. Twice a week, for the foreseeable future, we would fast from dinner to dinner. We had dinner last night and would not eat again till dinner tonight. Endless parades of German beer and sausage, French baguettes and cheeses and now Italian pizza, pasta and Chianti were taking their toll. We were mad as hell and we weren't going to take it anymore.  Well not quite, but I for one was running out of holes on my belt and am feeling compelled to do something, or in this case to actually not do something, eat. 

Having a lazy "get to know your local village day" today. The lake is fed by numerous mountain streams and rivulets, one of which happens to run right past our door.

The waterfall that ate Callums croc, then gave it back two days later
The boys and I decided to follow it upstream a bit and came to a waterfall.  The water was cool and mountain fresh clear. Callum decided it would be a good idea to sail his Croc over the edge and it promptly got swallowed up by the river gods.  We had fun poking around with a stick and getting soaked trying to find it but, no luck.

I asked the river gods when they have finished with it would they mind spitting it back out and sending it down stream for us. 
Which they kindly did two days later.

19/08/20 The weather gods were yet again smiling on the CVW'S. We left around 10ish and caught the C10 bus up to Villa Carlotta. It is a magnificent Villa set in 17 acres of lush and diverse botanic gardens. From broad expanses of Azaleas to lush tropical palms to an amazing display of cacti, it was stunning. 
Wonderful, but you want a good gardener
A large flowing stream appeared from the depths of a thick forest, ran down under a bridge and disappeared into the gardens. The Villa was started in 1690 for a Milanese Marquees and finished in 1745. It changed hands in 1795 when a Napoleonic politician bought it and again in when in was bought by Prussian Princess Marianna as a wedding gift for her daughter Charlotte, nickname, Carlotta.  Not that she enjoyed it for to long, dying at the tender age of 23.

Stunning Gardens
The Villa itself is imposing and full of original furniture, art works and statues.

It also has a great little coffee shop there that does a mean Americano and according to Callum a very satisfactory Tuna and Mayo panini. 
After we got back home it was feet up, watch the world go by and think of nothing else except what's for dinner.

20/08/13 Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me. Yes, it may be four years after I asked for but I finally got  a birthday in Lake Como. We took a leisurely boat ride down to Bellagio for a stroll through the town and a great meal at The Princess Restaurant. 
Fifty Four?  Yeh, I can do that!
Thems that keeps me young
Bellagio, "The Pearl of Lake Como", has been famous since Roman times for it's beauty and it's strategic position being located at the junction of the three arms of the lake. It was a holiday destination for well to do Romans from the 1st century and has continued to this day as one of the go to places for not only Italians but holiday makers the world over.
Every step is worth it, whether it's for a view or a bite to eat
A stairway to trouble :))
It was a fabulous day roaming the town, having coffee and delicious pastries then a fantastic meal and a couple of glasses of red. 

My birthday cake...s
What a fantastic way to finish our stay in Argegno, Lake Como. We will be back.

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